Tamara Osso is a Johannesburg-based artist whose work explores a trail of connections between painting, dance and other forms of movement. Drawing deeply on her personal experience as a professional dancer and as a mother to a child with a disability, she is interested in how different kinds of movement are available to different bodies in different contexts. For Osso, physical movement is a form of embodied research, and in her painting practice she looks for ways to draw connections between the dynamism of the body and visual languages.
The proprioceptive act of painting, the way that making a painting is always a process of situating one’s body in relation to material, becomes a metaphor for how space is inhabited and experienced more broadly. As a woman negotiating different public and private spaces in Johannesburg, she is constantly aware of how safety and freedom are coded in the aesthetics of the city and the suburbs. Always bridging these relationships is an exploration of her own psychological state. Both the subject matter of her paintings, and her engagement with dance, bring inner worlds to the surface.
Osso holds an MA in Fine Arts (cum laude) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (cum laude) both from Wits University. In 2023, her solo exhibition “Making Grass” was presented at David Krut Projects in Johannesburg. Her award-winning work as a dancer and performer has been seen in theatres and festivals locally and internationally, including Dance Umbrella, Johannesburg, the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, The Grand Theatre, Shanghai, Tianqiao Performance Center, Beijing and Asia World Arena, Hong Kong.
To be honest, I never considered printmaking. I am a painter and a performer, interested in the immediacy of the mark and the whole body as a performance tool. Yet, after working properly in a print studio for the past 3 years I began to notice the effect of printmaking on my practice. In fact the print studio and the dance studio have much in common; communal space, surface tension and texture as well as collaborative effort to name a few aspects. The cross-disciplinary work between dancing, painting and printmaking is an exciting intersection for me. It seems to touch on words like memory, experience, trace and process. Repetition and layering remain important physical threads in all three media and influence the notion of ritual which re-enters a theatrical type context for me - where experiential space is considered in the making process. Printmaking absorbs this idea and seems to be able to communicate with a wide range of artistic intentions and narratives.